Scriptures: Luke 4:43, Acts 1:3, Matthew 6:9-10, Psalms 145:13, Daniel 7:13-14, Matthew 3:2, Matthew 3:7, Matthew 3:10-12, Luke 16:16, Matthew 11:12, Matthew 23:13, Matthew 21:43, Matthew 24:34,Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 11:20, Matthew 16:19, Matthew 21:31, Matthew 13:19, Luke 17:20-21, Romans 14:17, John 3:3, John 3:5, Luke 12:32, Colossians 1:13, Revelation 1:9, Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10, Hebrews 12:28, Matthew 6:10
What is your passion? What is the air you breathe? What is it that ignites something inside of you that nothing else does? Have you ever wondered what Christ's passion was? You might answer "people" and that is partially correct, but the passion of Jesus was the kingdom. The kingdom of God was the air he breathed. The kingdom was the major theme of Christ's preaching. The word kingdom occurs one hundred and fourteen times in the Gospels. There are fifty-two uses in Matthew, eighteen uses in Mark, forty-one uses in Luke, and three in John. That is a total of one hundred and fourteen uses in the Gospels where the teachings of Christ are given us. Jesus said,
Luke 4:43 . . . "I MUST preach the good news of THE KINGDOM OF GOD to the other towns also, because THAT IS WHY I WAS SENT."
Isn't it great to know what you were sent here to do? Jesus said the reason he was sent was to PREACH THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! He did it well. The kingdom continued to be Christ's passion after his resurrection.
Acts 1:3 . . . He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
The kingdom was the passion of Christ. Where are you on the "passion meter" concerning the kingdom of God? Do you ever talk about the kingdom? You should. In fact, it should be the primary thing you pray about.
In the center of the greatest sermon ever taught, the Sermon on the Mount, we find the greatest prayer ever prayed. Prayer is central to the Christ follower. Jesus said to talk to Father about issues of importance when we pray. The very first issue of importance that we should talk to Father about is his kingdom.
Matthew 6:9-10 This, then, is HOW YOU SHOULD PRAY: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, YOUR KINGDOM come. . .
Praying for the kingdom is a part of a complete prayer life. But, how many of us have ever prayed about the kingdom? You have recited the Lord's Prayer, yet have you really taken time to talk to Father about his kingdom? One reason you do not is the confusion about the kingdom. Theologians and preachers program people to think the kingdom of God is only a future kingdom. You have been programmed to think that we must have a "rapture" and a "great tribulation" before the kingdom of God can come. That is not true.
For the next several minutes, we will look at scripture after scripture showing that the kingdom of God was in existence on earth before Jesus came, is in existence this very moment on earth, and it will be on earth after we are gone. I give you 20-30 scripture references (which in no way will exhaust the scriptures we could use). Hopefully, by the end of the lesson, you will say, "We really are living in the kingdom of God today."
Let's begin by showing that the kingdom of God is not something futuristic or even new. It has been in existence a long, long time. King David wrote about it more than a thousand years before Christ and more than three thousand years ago as we speak today.
Psalms 145:13 YOUR KINGDOM is an EVERLASTING KINGDOM, and your dominion endures through ALL GENERATIONS. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
The kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. The kingdom of God exists in every generation. The kingdom of God is not something new or futuristic. It is here and available in our generation today. The Lord wants you in his kingdom.
Daniel received a vision about the kingdom and he recorded that vision for us. Daniel's vision concerned three issues pertaining to the kingdom. These were: (1) the change of authority over the kingdom; (2) the expansion of the kingdom in the earth; and (3) the duration of the kingdom. Let's look at that.
Daniel 7:13-14 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an EVERLASTING DOMINION that will not pass away, and HIS KINGDOM is one that will NEVER be destroyed.
Daniel saw the ascension of Christ – the Son of man given all authority and power. Every nation will worship the King. The kingdom of Christ will never end or be destroyed. We cannot explore it at this time, but Revelation chapter five is a word video of Daniel 7:13-14 taking place.
Shortly before the inauguration of Jesus at water baptism, the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist said,
Matthew 3:2 "Repent, for the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is near."
How can the kingdom be near if it was already in existence? The word near is eggizo pronounced eng-id'-zo (Strong's #1448) and means to bring near, to join one thing to another. I do not think that Father God was confused about the definition of near. I don't think that anyone thought then, or thinks today, that near would mean two thousand, three thousand, or four thousand years. The King James' Version says at hand. Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said to the Iraqis, "The day of your liberation may soon be at hand." Did he mean things would change thousands of years from now? No, serious change was happening even as Rumsfeld spoke. John meant the kingdom of heaven was undergoing serious change. Let's read the message of John the Baptist to that generation. Please do not miss what he is telling them.
Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Matthew 3:10-12 The ax IS ALREADY AT THE ROOT OF THE TREES, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
When John the Baptist said the kingdom is near, he meant serious change was near for the kingdom. It would be like unproductive trees being cut down and burned or chaff separated and burned from the wheat. The person coming after John the Baptist would bring the change and that person was Jesus.
Jesus said that John the Baptist was the defining moment of the change in the kingdom. The kingdom changed from adhering to the Law and the Prophets to adhering to the good news of the kingdom. Jesus said…
Luke 16:16 The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed UNTIL JOHN. SINCE THAT TIME, the good news of THE KINGDOM OF GOD is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
John the Baptist was the defining moment. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed UNTIL JOHN. SINCE THAT TIME,people are forcing their way into the kingdom of God.
What does forcing his way into it mean? Coming into the kingdom is not as easy as we preachers sometimes make it out to be as we learn in the Sermon on the Mount. As we will see shortly, we can be born again and see it, but it requires being born of the spirit and water to enter it. It requires allowing the Spirit to adjust the attitudes of our hearts. It requires controlling anger, lust, marital relations, truth telling, loving our enemies, proper giving, prayer, etc. Also, the Pharisees and teachers, as we will see shortly, blocked people from entering the kingdom. They continue to block the entrance to the kingdom today. Entering the kingdom requires force on our part.
It is important to note that the preaching of the good news (gospel) of the kingdom includes the preaching of its present existence. A "newspaper" or "news" is about current events. The good NEWS of the kingdom is a current event, not a future event. The event began with John the Baptist and the kingdom is advancing.
Matthew 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
The church has been advancing the kingdom since the time of John the Baptist until now. We may not realize it, but that is what we are doing through evangelism, outreach, good teaching, etc.
Jesus spoke "Woe" to those entrusted to preach the kingdom and bring people into it, but did not.
Matthew 23:13 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
It is amazing how this continues today. We continue to have "Pharisees" and "hypocrites" who shut the kingdom in men's faces. Jesus opened the kingdom. Preachers shut it.
The kingdom was taken from the teachers of that day and the Pharisees. It was given to the church. Jesus speaking to the Pharisees said,
Matthew 21:43 Therefore I tell you that THE KINGDOM OF GOD will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
The kingdom was indeed taken from the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. It happened to that generation to which Jesus spoke (Mat 23:33, 36; 24:34; Mk 13:30; Luk 21:32). I need to give you at least one of these "this generation" verses and I will do it from three translations. Jesus had just spoken about the great tribulation (Mat 24:21). The he says…
(KJV) Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, THIS GENERATION shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
(NIV) Matthew 24:34 I tell you the truth, THIS GENERATION will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
(NLT) Matthew 24:34 I assure you, THIS GENERATION will not pass from the scene before all these things take place.
The temple was destroyed in the war of A.D. 70. Any encyclopedia or historic resource records this event. The tree was cut down as John the Baptist said. The kingdom changed authority as Daniel said. This was the meaning of what Jesus spoke to his disciples concerning some of them not dying until they saw Jesus coming in his kingdom.
Matthew 16:28 I tell you the truth, some who are STANDING HERE will not taste death before they see the Son of Man COMING IN HIS KINGDOM."
Mark 9:1 And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are STANDING HERE will not taste death before THEY SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD COME WITH POWER."
Either we have some 2,000 year old men walking around, or the Jesus brought the kingdom before some who were standing there died. Again, it wasn't that a new kingdom began. It was that the authority of the kingdom was given to Jesus.
Jesus said the proof the kingdom had changed and come to people was that he could drive out demons with the finger of God.
Luke 11:20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, THEN THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME TO YOU.
Jesus is the kingdom authority. Only Jesus could give keys that open and lock (bind and loose). What most of us do not realize is these keys are KEYS TO THE KINGDOM.
Matthew 16:19 I will give you the KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Christ followers use the keys to bind and loose, but never realize they are KINGDOM KEYS.
Interestingly, before the crucifixion of Jesus, tax collectors and prostitutes were converting and entering the kingdom of God.
Matthew 21:31 . . . Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes ARE ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD ahead of you.
"…ARE ENTERING" is present tense. People were entering the kingdom of God 2000 years ago.
Then, as today, people have difficulty understanding the kingdom. Jesus said when we are taught the message of the kingdom, but do not understand it, it is because the evil one comes and SNATCHES AWAY what was taught. I hope this doesn't happen today.
Matthew 13:19 When anyone hears THE MESSAGE ABOUT THE KINGDOM and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
One tremendous problem with understanding the kingdom is that it was and is taught as coming externally. Jesus never taught anything like that. An external kingdom will never come the way most "prophetic teachers" teach. Many attempt to teach us of some major cataclysmic heavenly battle after which the kingdom of God is ushered in. That was what the Jews awaited in the days of Jesus. That was not accurate then and is not accurate today. Here is what Jesus said.
Luke 17:20-21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God DOES NOT COMEwith your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' BECAUSE THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU."
The kingdom is the Holy Spirit bringing the kingdom internally.
Romans 14:17 For THE KINGDOM OF GOD is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
The entire born again experience is for the purpose of seeing the kingdom.
John 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD unless he is born again."
Jesus said that after being born again, the kingdom can be entered when one is born of water and Spirit.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Jesus said Father has been pleased to give us the kingdom. We already have the kingdom. We only need to force our way into it. We need to lay hold of it.
Luke 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM.
If we have experienced being born of water and spirit, then we ARE IN the kingdom of the Son of God.
Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and BROUGHT US INTO THE KINGDOM OF THE SON HE LOVES
John, the writer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was in the kingdom on the island of Patmos as he wrote the book of Revelation.
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and KINGDOM and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Sometimes the kingdom is not fun. Sometimes we feel that we are in exile. But it's often at those times that we receive a revelation of Jesus Christ.
We are a kingdom and priests.
Revelation 1:6 and HAS MADE US TO BE A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
We are to reign on earth in the kingdom.
Revelation 5:10 You have made them to be a KINGDOM AND PRIESTS to serve our God, and they will REIGN ON THE EARTH."
What is the consensus? Is there a present kingdom? It would be difficult to convince me otherwise. Jesus said to pray, "your kingdom come . . . on earth as it is in heaven." Why pray for it to come if it is present now and was even present when Jesus instructed us to pray this? The answer – the kingdom has not come to earth as it is in heaven. The Bible teaches the kingdom of God has been around a long time, yet we continue to receive the kingdom.
Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we ARE RECEIVING A KINGDOM that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
Do you pray for the kingdom? When I pray for the kingdom to come, I pray first it come fully in my life. I am receiving a kingdom. I want Jesus to have all power and all authority in my heart. I want to live out the kingdom. I pray it come in my family. I pray it come in our church and in each one of you. I pray that every church in our region will teach and preach the kingdom of heaven as did Jesus. I pray that Father will allow us to teach the kingdom to this region and expand his kingdom right here in our area.
I talk to Father about the kingdom. I want it on earth as in heaven. That is Father's desire.
Matthew 6:10 YOUR KINGDOM come . . . on earth as in heaven
Here is the bottom line. Father has a kingdom and desires you to be in it. He wants to bless your life and make you prosperous. He loves you and has a plan for you to have an abundant life.
I have given you tons of information and scriptures today. I want to close by asking you if you are in the kingdom of God. Have you been born again so you can see it? Are you born of water and Spirit so you can enter it? In the kingdom is the abundant life.